Subscriptions and Memberships – why we offer them and who benefits most.

Customer loyalty is extremely important to any business that wishes to stay in business. Customer retention is a measure of success. Most businesses won’t discuss these things with potential or even existing customers. Yes, they may say “We succeed in customer loyalty”, but that’s just a means to essentially say, “Everybody else likes us, you should too!”

Subscriptions and Membership programs, offered by any seller/retailer, are relied upon to create a baseline of how the business is doing in both loyalty and retention. They are also important in understanding habits, likes, and production needs. This work as a trade off by giving the customer a perk or benefit for their participation.

About Subscriptions

Offering subscriptions on the items that are most commonly re-purchased by a customer allows us to plan our inventory and ensures a level of customer retention. By subscribing the customer not only receives a discount on the product, as well as assurance that they will have the product they need when they need. Having a subscription service that allows flexibility for the customer gives them opportunity to tweak or adjust when and what they receive with each shipment can add to their value.

For example, a customer can purchase a Beard Oil subscription with a specific “favorite” scent in mind. If they wish to try another fragrance they can change their scent option before their next shipment. When necessary, a customer can suspend the replenishment at any time, or even cancel it altogether. You are not locked in!

Subscriptions ensure you have what you need when you need it without having to remember to do it.

About Memberships a.k.a. Rewards Program

Memberships come in different forms and have a lot of different names. In most cases, you are required to sign up to create your account to receive benefits.

  • Earn “points” to be exchanged for cash discounts later%. These are usually free to take part, but some do charge fees.
  • % Cash back. Used by Credit Cards. You may not actually get cash back, but can apply it to your balance or as gift cards to other businesses. This is paid for through a higher APR% on your account balance.
  • Make a specific number of purchases and get the next one free. Often used for drinks or other food items.
  • Receive a lower listed price on select items throughout the store. Uses a card that is scanned at checkout. Often used by grocery stores. In some cases, everyone gets the same price regardless of membership.
  • Pay an annual fee and receive an assortment of perks and discounts.

Let’s look at what is most likely a membership program nearly everyone is familiar with, Amazon Prime. Prime is an enormous multifaceted membership program. It promises lower prices, free shipping with shorter fulfillment times; along with other services like media streaming. They don’t do this for free, you need to pay an annual fee to receive these benefits.

Why is nearly every seller out there offering some sort of membership program?

One part is that they are able to influence you to shop with them exclusively, or more often. In some cases, customers will be exclusive to them. But that is an extreme expectation. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to return to a business they have a membership with, as long as they receive good service when doing business with them.

A hidden component is that the majority of these plans have a hidden mission. Through your membership they can track what you buy and how you pay. This data is compiled and shared with other businesses; often for a price. They have all the information they need – name, address, phone numbers, and email. Depending on the plan, they may also learn your age, gender, race, relationship status, family and residence details. Once you make your payment, they can learn your income level and other financial information. All this information is used for marketing to you as well as establishing various demographic profiles used by businesses and government.

How our Membership Plan is different:

We charge an annual fee. In return, you receive a 10% discount on all items we make, 5% on other items; Free Shipping on every order; a bunch of free products to try and share; special Members Only items.

Your personal information is kept secure and private. We take privacy seriously! What information we have access to is used to process your orders and contact you if there are any questions. You are not added to our mailing list, but we may mail special members only information to you. There is also nothing to really manage, but you do need to have a user account for the duration of your membership. Add the plan to your order and you will immediately benefit – qualifying items in your cart will be discounted and have free shipping. The gift pack will ship with your order, no need to even add it to your cart.

Why do we charge a fee? We look at it as a partial up front payment of shipping fees. The free gifts help sweeten the deal. By paying, you will want to get the most money out of it – to earn back as much of that fee as you can, or more. And simply, it allows us to offer this plan without a hard hit to our bottom line.

Using Subscriptions and Memberships together:

Here is where having a Membership can be a huge benefit. With so many of our most popular and often re-ordered products being available as a subscription, you can save even more! Our subscriptions items usually have a modest discount included, then you can save 10% on top of that. Then, for as long as your membership is active, you will receive every order without paying for shipping.

Who benefits the most from these plans?

Our mission is to make shopping with us, getting the products you enjoy the most, more attractive and rewarding. Subscription benefits are up front and immediate; designed to make it mindlessly easy for you to always have your favorite products on hand. With a membership, you save money on every purchase. In just a couple orders, you will see a big savings by being a member.

When combined is where we see the biggest benefit for us. By selling a higher volume of products, with more frequency, we see a more stable/predictable sales trend. The more these are used by more customers, we can start buying our materials and ingredients in larger quantities. We can also streamline our production capacity to handle the higher demand. This leads to us becoming a more efficient enterprise and the savings will likely get passed along in many of our products.

Transparency

We have a very different view of how a business operates and communicates. It is a no-brainer that any seller is doing it to make money. And, that the more they sell the more money they make. Being a tiny business our profits are tight, leaving little revenue to pay for big advertising. Honestly, the more customers we have that take part in these services helps us budget more reliably and create more effective plans for growth. Your trust in us, demonstrated through your loyalty, brings stability to our business. The best way to make it all happen, is to encourage more folks to shop with us and reward those who wish to shop more frequently.

Transitioning to Flexible Packaging

The state of the supply chain because of the current pandemic has pushed us into more aggressively seeking a new means to package and sell our liquid soaps. We plan to transition all liquid soaps to a more eco-friendly flat bottom pouch for SHOWER WASH, BEARD SHAMPOO, LIQUID SHAMPOOS and CONDITIONERS.

We started exploring “flexible packaging” last summer to help reduce the environmental impact of the plastics we use. Our thinking was that a soft sided pouch filled with SHOWER WASH would serve as a refill to any bottle you may already have. J&L would still offer an empty bottle and pump for a low price and possibly add some style options as well. This would operate like many other “refill” scenarios out there for household and personal care products.

Now that bottles are in short supply and it can be months before we can acquire more, it is sensible to explore this concept more aggressively today. The process to purchase these pouches is already in motion and could be available to us much sooner than bottles.

There are some great benefits for you and the environment with this change. First, they weigh less and use a lot less plastic. This makes them cheaper to ship; to us from the manufacturer and to you when purchased. Both of these expenses are factored into our product price. Our current bottles can easily be 1/3 to 1/2 the manufacturing costs of everything we make. Where with some bottles it is hard to get all the product out, leaving up to 14% of the product going to waste, depending upon the contents, a pouch makes it easy to squeeze out nearly every drop. Pouches take less energy to produce and dramatically lower the carbon footprint of packaging. By using them as a refill for an existing bottle, less plastic is heading to a landfill. These pouches are also PET, which means they can be recycled. As much as we would love to find a much more green solution to our packaging, this puts us a lot closer to our goal.

Here is the biggest plus to you: where we save money gives us a means to lower their price. Currently our SHOWER WASH comes in a 360ml/12.2 oz bottle and we sell it for $15.00 in our store. A pouch variant could be 400ml/13.5 oz and we could potentially sell it for $13.50 – giving you over an ounce more while you pay less. Our BEARD SHAMPOO could even be a bigger savings. This is all tentative based upon our early negotiations with suppliers.

This plan is in an early stage at this time, but we hope to go into summer making this a reality. If this works out as well as we anticipate, we will work to find similar packaging for lotions and creams along with any other dispensable liquid or cream product we make. The flexibility in this packaging is nearly limitless.

We think you will like all the options this will bring, letting you refill any bottle you have or you could even use it straight from the pouch if you wish to be frugal. Once bottles are more available, we will look into providing a few options to assist in matching your style. Keep following us on Facebook to stay in the loop on this as it develops.

COVID-19 Response (updated 5/16/2020)

We are expanding upon previous communications related to the impact and our reaction to COVID-19.

What we are doing to safeguard ourselves and you:

Since we are unable to use our drop-in production locales during this time. This requires us to make everything in house…my house. Any items that require a more highly sanitized work area will be lower in priority for us to make. This relates mostly to our SERUM HA, FACE WASH and TONERs (which are well in stock at this time).

All other production will take place in a sanitized area that is free of potential contaminants and as always, all tools, containers, work surfaces and materials will be disinfected. First using a chlorine disinfectant, then once dry, items will be wiped with a hydrogen peroxide solution to remove any residue and apply another level of disinfection.

Before shipping, we have always wiped clean all bottles and jars with the 90% alcohol solution. This has been to remove dust and particles that would settle within our storage area for finished goods. As the virus is unable to live in significant quantities past 3 days on any surface, what is inside the package is very likely safe to handle. But, be safe and wash your hands after touching any mail or packages arriving at your home. If possible, wear latex or nitrile gloves.

IMPACT TO INVENTORY:

Due to our packaging and ingredient suppliers dealing with a dramatic increases in demand for components we use, we expect to see tighter inventory levels and an increase in out-of-stock situations during this period. We will be managing our inventory levels for our website more tightly during this time. Through the upcoming weeks we are switching to producing inventory in even smaller batches or ‘to order’ as a means to better meet demand of the most popular items and permit flexibility of packaging. If there is a much preferred fragrance option showing that it is not available, please email us at support@pogonotrophics.com to see if we are able to produce the item for you.

UPDATE 5/16: We moved up our plans to change liquid soap packaging to stand-up pouches. Our initial plan was to introduce this Fall 2020. Due to limited availability of our current PET bottles, we feel that it makes sense to do this sooner. It will take some time for this transition to take place as the pouches will not arrive until this summer. Which is still much sooner than we can expect to have bottles available. In the meantime we will sell through all current inventory of produced inventory. Current unfilled bottles will be sold separately empty, as the pouches will be a great refill to any bottle. Look for these items to trickle in over the coming weeks.

Also, we have remaining inventory of some older bottle styles that we will use for lotions until we can source an alternative package or are able to acquire appropriate bottles. Both of these measures will mean that the pictures may not match the product you receive. The volume listed will remain the same, along with pricing.

PRICING STABILIZED:

We are personally disgusted by those who are working hard to take advantage of this very challenging situation by drastically increasing prices on essential items. It has been our policy from our first day of business to always strive to offer our products at the best possible price. This does leave us with tighter profits due to our size and buying power; yet we feel it would heavily contradict our values if we were to raise our prices without genuine necessity.

If you see any price increases during this time, it will truly be related to a substantial increase in the cost of materials. One of our key suppliers has dramatically increased their prices to where they are no longer a wholesale supplier and no longer a reliable option to buy from. This means we must find other suppliers for our materials which can lead to a higher price paid by us. It is important to ensure we maintain the same level of quality in raw goods (ingredients) that we are currently using.

UPDATE 5/16: We have lowered the price of our 360ml SHOWER WASH to $13.00, a $2 savings. Subscriptions will be $12/unit, plus $1 for the first unit. When the pouch package becomes available, the item will be 400ml and sell for the same price of $13.00.

IMPACT TO PRODUCTION:

During this time, we will place a higher priority on bar/solid soaps. As we sell out of current bar soap formulas, we will be able to start introducing our new Hemp Oil based soap bars. They will be available in many of the same fragrances currently presented. Our Shea Butter Soaps will continue as is, we may add more fragrances to this line as well. As a whole, the CRYSTAL soaps are being discontinued.

Outside of what has been noted above, there will likely be Out of Stock [OOS] situations for select items. Unless explictly noted, they are not discontinued and will be back in stock as soon as we are able to produce them. Sometimes this is merely hours and no more than a couple days. Please track us on Facebook to be informed on any long term OOS items.

A Personal Note:

This is a very challenging time for many lower wage earners who are finding themselves without work due to this virus and uncertainty that the Federal government will find a means to help. We are feeling the impact here as well. This is my sole source of income. As a tiny business, I am essentially the only employee. Bar far this is not a well paying job but it has many other rewards. When in a time of uncertainty, businesses like this feel the hit harder than other businesses, and they feel it sooner. We hope that our loyal followers will consider us during this time when stocking up on their soap and other personal care item needs. Your dollar spent with us goes immediately into our community to support other small local businesses – such as grocery stores, restaurants and other shops where we do our daily business. Shopping from us, helps other businesses like us as well. When we get through this, and we will, I know we all will be stronger.

I thank you all very much for your understanding and consideration. Please continue to be well and help all of us get through this time.

John C Dodge

March Focus: J+L Apothecary Branding Refresh

When we fully committed to J+L Apothecary (JLA) as a product line, it was imperative we clearly create its own iconic brand image. Forus, it needed to be something that captured two key elements of the brand: skin and hair essentials (basics), and be gender neutral.

We took some time looking through the history of modern person care branding. The 1950s was a big change for the marketplace. Many popular products that are household names to this day can trace their origins back to this time. Much like our branding of J&L Pogonotrophics, that evokes the early 1900s with being the last era where men having facial hair was commonplace, we felt that the ’50s was an ideal era to reflect in our branding.

Another time period that had a major impact on the original design for our labeling was the 1980s and the ‘Generic Brands” of the day. A very minimalist, monochromatic style that was heavy on direct and to the point text. With the 1950’s being light on color and images for packaging, mix that with the 1980’s generics with bold text and simplicity, we feel we created something that openly communicated “basics” and not force an engendered appearance.

As you can see above, we went super simple with naming, text style and color. Text was bold, information was minimal and there was as minimal color. When we used color, it was in two ways, to identify a product category, or to highlight variants of a product. The color band that was the highlight for the Brand name subtly noted whether it was a soap, skin care product or hair care product. We didn’t openly communicate that little detail to consumers as we liked hearing the “Aha!” moment when it was figured out.

For our brand refresh we are executing this year we did not want to lose touch on many of those key components, but it was obvious we needed to improve our labels to be more eye catching. With our transition to white or clear bottles and jars, our previous style was less appealing.

The color coding was retained and is still used to denote product category. Gone is most of the white space, to be filled with a coding color gradient. Text remains bold and is more consistently used. Scale of text sets product and variation names apart from helpful product information, which is new to our labels.

With our new look, our product names are more prominent, our brand name is less pronounced and more strategically placed for clarity. Smaller text calls our key features and ingredients. Color is more comforting by use of a gradient that transitions from bold to white.

Testing of this new look was well received. People liked sharpness of the product name being out front. The additional information provided helps one perform a quick comparison to determine if the item will suit their needs. Ingredients are generally on the left; use and maker information to the right. Reviewers felt this was more modern yet very much held to our brand values.

Over the course of this year you will see this branding roll out to more and more products. First we need to move through current inventory of produced goods as well as current label stock. Some products feature above, are still in development but should be launching soon. Also, some items are seeing a minor tweak to their name to better reflect their uses. For example, HAND + BODY LOTION is now called FACE, HANDS + BODY lotion to help customers know that it can also be used on their face with great results. We call it FHB for short, and it will be a featured product on our Facebook page this coming Saturday.

Please comment or share your thoughts with us, it is always great to hear from you.

March Focus: J&L APOTHECARY

We have selected this March to focus on the J&L Apothecary brand. Since its launch in June of 2017 it has grown to be a bigger beast than J&L Pogonotrophics in the variety of products we offer. Compared to our foundational Beard Care Brand, J&L Apothecary is rather young. In the last year it has really taken on a life of its own; making it the right time to freshen it up and let more people learn about it.

Built on the same principles as J&L Pognotrophics, the items we make are intended to be as natural as possible, free is gimmicks, perform very well and be a better value than most other “specialty” brands. We started J&L Apothecary to satisfy a growing demand for more products that were outside of caring for a beard or facial hair. We were already making soaps and lotions, which were attracting women and non-bearded men. The one detail that we needed to manage is the fact that Pogonotrophics literally means “beard – care”. How do we embrace all those other people who like all these other skin and body products? Easily, we change the name of the brand for all those items that are not for facial hair.

First order of business was to broaden our variety of fragrances to appeal to more people. Although our J&L Pognotrophics scents were not all stereotypically “masculine” scents, there plainly was not enough depth of options to appeal to those that like softer, floral or fruit scents.

Once we pulled together some familiar and some truly unique scents, it was time to grow the product offerings. Within the first year we added more clay masks, more lotions, all new bar soaps, and more. In our second year we added a more specialized line of daily facial products such as toner, face wash and a hyaluronic serum. All of these have done very well for us so far.

Q: Why do we need to focus on it J+L APOTHECARY if it is doing well?

A: With its diverse options in multiple categories of personal care and grooming, it has the potential to become bigger than our J&L POGONOTROPHICS line. Where Beard Care has a very specific demographic, everything we offer with J+L APOTHECARY is beneficial to our existing customers and can easily bring us new customers. Since its inception, J+L APOTHECARY has started to rival its bearded brother. Now we wish to push it ahead, and make sure everyone knows about all that it offers. Even if J+L APOTHECARY takes over and far exceeds J&L POGONOTROPHICS, we will not ignore our foundational line of products. We certainly will not drop it. In fact, there are some new things coming to keep it thriving. J&L POGONOTROPHICS will always be our most male focused line.

Learning more about our market and the behavior of shoppers, we have identified a hurdle that we feel is holding J+L APOTHECARY back to some degree. There seems to me a lack of awareness and understanding of the brand; and what differentiates it from the rest.

  1. Many women believe we are only making products for men, specifically bearded men. That was only true of us within the first 6 to 9 months. Early on we had products that women and the follicle-ly challenged enjoyed.
  2. Many of our male customers that are aware of J&L Apothecary, think it is our “women’s line”. That is very much not true. ALL of the dozens of products we make as J&L Apothecary are gender neutral – intended for use on every body regardless of gender or gender identity. The reason a product appeals to you should be two things; how it appeals to your senses and how well it will perform the job it is designed for. If you like the way it smells, feels and works then what else genuinely matters other than price?
  3. Men that are aware of J&L Apothecary and it being gender neutral, still are fearful of skin care. Either they don’t know where to begin or what products they may need. It is a huge myth that men, in general, do not have an interest in taking care of their skin. The issue is, the vast amount of information out there is not presented to men in places they would find it.

A little more about Reason #3:

Our industry, cosmetics and beauty products, has been innately geared towards women. With that comes marketing, sales and product features solely directed towards women as they are seen as the solitary user of most products or are the decision maker behind the purchasing for their family. Today, there are a full spectrum of personal, home and family dynamics that makes that approach outdated and even sexist.

If you don’t think they are talking to you, you are likely to tune them out. That is a key reason why men are lost in the forest when it comes to personal care products. Right now, when you look at advertisements for body wash, you will see that they are either aiming towards specifically either women, men or kids/family. Packaging, fragrances and the entire presentation targets on specifically one of those categories. For general products, we feel the marketing should have a much more broad approach; work towards speaking to everybody with a focus on the product’s benefits. The marketing directing towards men plays to tired tropes about it making your more masculine as well as more appealing to women. Another misguided tactic, is to make a solitary product to everything for a man; as if they don’t wish to be bothered with taking care of themselves.

In additional posts during this month, we wish to go into our approach with packaging and marketing. From there we will highlight our most popular products with a focus on their ingredients, uses and characteristics. All in an effort to bring more attention to this growing brand. During the entire month of March, we will also offer coupon discounts so you can save 20% on any of our J+L APOTHECARY products. We hope to you follow us to learn more about these great products for your skin and hair.

2020: Year in Preview

The first few months of any year is a time to regroup, refocus and energize to take on all the new challenges that a new year brings. Typically, these are the slowest months of the year in regards to sales and productivity; but not for planning and strategy building. We have a lot of aspirations for this year, as well as some solid goals that we must meet.

This year we are changing a few things in regards to how we promote ourselves. Our newsletters will become monthly and will operate like a newsletter. Much of what each email will contain will be pulled from our blog as well as unique information to be shared first in the newsletter. There will then by a few special emails that will strongly feature products and services. These will be tied to busier times of the year.

We also plan to become more aggressive with our social media presence. This has been something we have been inconsistent with since the beginning. Although J&L is often referenced as a “we”, in reality it is only one person juggling the majority of activities. After production, administrative and operational tasks, there is little time made available for social media posts. Now that I have refined some processes there will be more time for mapping our on-line presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even here on our blog.

Changes to our Festival Participation

Many of our most loyal customer came to us from meeting us at area Festivals and Pop-Ups over the years. It had been or focus to use such events as a means to not only make money, but to be a marketing tool. Having a physical presence where you can meet people face to face helps build a reputation and trust. With the changes in how city street festivals are managed and promoted, we are see a decline in sales from these events in direct correlation to the attendance numbers. This specifically boils down to “bang for the buck”. If we don’t make enough money being there, we are not going to come back.

Although these festivals are well attended overall, most of the attraction is around food, drink and entertainment. Merchants are not valued by the promoters and organizers in conjunction with fewer attendees coming to shop the merchants and see the artists. For these reasons, we are not doing anywhere as many festivals as we have in the past. In fact, we will only plan to take part in Andersonville Midsommarfest, Jarvis Square Music & Arts Fest and possibly Andersonville Arts Week.

Along with our new position on festival appearances, we will no longer take part in farmer’s markets, small bazaars and socials. Most of these are too tiny to drive traffic, are too narrow in appeal while providing less space for presentation. Another issue with such events are the hours of operation are very brief, sometimes as little as 4 hours on one day.

Factory Store Concept

The drawbacks we experienced this year greatly affected our plans for 2019. Our hopes were to have a dedicated space to not only sell our products, but to make them. It was important that we performed well enough in the scheduled events to have the funds to make this happen. This was a major setback for us, but not a defeat. We are going back to our whiteboard and rethink this plan for this year.

Place the Spotlight on Online Sales

For 2020 we will put more energy behind those areas where we are experiencing significant growth. Our online sales grew tremendously in 2019. This was done with zero advertising! This year we plan to bring back an advertising budget and place a more concentrated effort into our messages – micro and macro. From images to written content, we will strive to build a cohesive message that captures our values and our mission while genuinely representing our brands.

A New Business Plan to Guide Us

During these quieter months, we will be drafting a new business plan. Our initial business plan drove us to where we are today, but it is no longer relevant to where we need to go next. We have a strong proof of concept and a solid history to pull from in creating our driving vision for the coming years.

An essential focus will be financial stability and a restructure of any debt. As we have been a genuine bootstrap business, relying on personal funds and credit to build J&L, we have incurred a realistically small debt that carries higher interest rates than other forms of credit. By moving that debt to a new loan with a much lower interest rate, we will free up cash for all the things we wish to do this year. Our current debt is all in revolving credit, a micro loan will allow smaller payments with a solid pay off timeline, a much smarter way to handle it.

We are also opening ourselves up to the idea of a partnership or single investor situation. Bringing in a fresh voice that can also help drive this bus would be very beneficial if the terms are right. It will be imperative that anyone that wishes to become part of our family must like us as we are yet can further our growth and fine tune what we have already. Our customers pretty much like us as we are, we do not wish to alienate them as they have been a driving force for us all along.

At this point in our journey we are not in a critical or dire situation. Our needs at this point are purely to make a substantial jump in our growth. We feel this is a wise move to make at this moment and it can open us up for more rapid growth. We are not looking to dominate, we are merely seeking a higher level of stability. There are a lot of plans we have around new products and improvements for current products that we wish to bring to the marketplace. Once we have achieved those goals, we can then focus solely on improving other areas of our operations as we maintain our catalog of goods. Although, we know that our offerings must be flexible to satisfy changes in tastes and trends.

Products and Product Changes on the Horizon

We have mentioned some of these before with a few of them having been planned for 2019.

First off is Natural Deodorant. This has been heavily requested and something that makes sense for us to get into. We don’t plan to go big, just a couple sensible options.

We had talked about Toothpaste in the past. While it is still being worked on, it is not a huge priority for us.

Liquid Shampoos and Conditioners will return this spring. Production has already started and we have items ready to sell, but we are waiting for “creative” department to do some photos so we can get them out there for sale. We have dropped the plan for solid conditioner as it is not mass production friendly. There will be changes to our Shampoo Bar line with the dropping AMP, reformulating QUENCH as well as SHOCK. We are also considering doing a combo bar or FIXER/BALANCE to address itchy/oily scalp.

Sustainability has always been important to us, but due to our size it has been a very expensive component. This year is where we plan to move away from as much plastic as possible, or at least minimize the amount. This is leading to our revamped concept with liquid soaps. This spring we are going to start using a pouch format for liquid soaps that can re-fill any style of liquid soap dispenser or bottle. This will allow us to keep the price lower as well as reduce the total weight of plastic we are currently using.

Solid Cologne/Fragrance has been immensely popular for us. We are planning to put more energy behind this line with new unique fragrances and new “air tight” packaging. Formulas will see a boost in fragrance strength as feedback has been that they are a tad light.

We will be bringing back Salt Scrubs. This was a line that was badly affected by doing festivals as the heat was causing the sugar to melt. We are removing sugar, and going back to just salt. Scrubs will remain a small-run product that will see very tight inventory levels. Essentially, they will be made to order.

We do have plans to introduce new scents as we are retiring a couple. Tarocco and Citrus Grove have ceased production. Remaining inventory is currently clearance priced. Absinthe & Leather are moving to Expanded Assortment – only available as scented to order. Lakeside and Seaside will be expanded into Beard Care and in more Apothecary items. They were well received as Solid Colognes last year. Also popular as a cologne, Aruba will be introduced as our official new scent of 2020. Expect to see this in all Beard Oil formulas, Original Beard Butter, Shower Wash and Bar Soap.

Expect Expanded Assortment to come to Shower Wash and Body Mist. With other planned changes in production, we intend to make it easier to scent a product on demand wherever possible. A system we are developing will make it possible to maintain an inventory of unscented items with a scent blend “dose” that we can mix-in just before shipping. This is part of our desire to offer more options while keeping prices lower.

In Closing

We are about to reach the end of our 6th year. Through these years we have seen quite a few similar businesses come and go. We cannot express how thankful we are that we are still here and are in a position to consider further growth. What was meant to be a tiny little hobby for myself as grown into a very unique brand that is changing how we all look at personal care. We stand firm that there is absolutely NO REASON to pay so much for premium quality natural products. It boggles my mind to see a shampoo that costs $50 (11 fl oz) and is no better in performance than anything we have every made. Yet there are still beard oils out there that charge $40/ounce for glycerin with aloe and a few drops of specialty oils. This past year I was reminded why what I do matters to so many people. I hope this year, that with your support, we are able to reach our modest goals. You got us here, and we hope to remain a force in the personal care industry. When we have big name brands “borrow” from us, and are even beating us with their forgeries, we will keep making our mark!

A heartfelt thank you to all of you,
John C Dodge
Founder, J&L Pogonotrophics LLC

Thanksgiving and Holiday Plans

We feel it is important to communicate as much of our holiday plans as we can to help you plan your shopping or know what to expect. Please monitor this post for any new information or changes to current offerings.

SALES & PROMOTIONS

Our current Beard Care and Lotion promotion will end on November 23rd. This will be the absolute lowest price on our Beard Oils you will see for months to come!

On Wednesday November 27th, we will begin our THANKSGIVING WEEKEND promotions. There will be select items on sale from across all our entire catalog. It will also be the beginning of our FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $25. Due to the expense involved, there will be an order premium placed upon SHOWER WASH and PET SHAMPOO due to the higher weight of the items. This premium is a $1.00 price increase on each unit.

PRIMP & JOL CLUB: we will introduce a 3 month TRIAL membership to allow folks to see the benefits of this savings plan. This special limited membership will have all the same savings built in, but you will get a smaller welcome gift. This will launch in December and will be available until January 4th.

SHIPPING

We will continue to ship all domestic (USA) orders via USPS. This offers more of a value, and more package security, than any other means available to us. Expedited Shipping will not be an option.

These are important deadlines for Christmas Shipping

  • FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2019 – last day for shipping to ensure arrival before Christmas. Orders must be received by 10:00am CST
  • MONDAY, DECEMBER 23 – the last day we will ship any orders until DECEMBER 27

HOURS OF BUSINESS

Are order processing will be done Monday through Friday 9am to 4pm, Saturday 9am to 11am. Daily cutoff for orders to be shipped that day is 10:00am Monday through Saturday. No orders will be processed after 11am Saturday or all day Sunday. Customer Service will monitor email and Facebook messenger Monday through Thursday 8am to 8pm, Friday and Saturday 8am to 5pm. On days we are closed, there will be no activity in our offices. These dates and times are effective November 25, 2019 to December 19, 2019.

  • WEDNESDAY NOV. 27 – close at 2pm
  • THANKSGIVING DAY – closed
  • CHRISTMAS EVE – closed
  • CHRISTMAS DAY – closed
  • BOXING DAY – closed
  • NEW YEARS EVE – closed
  • NEW YEARS DAY – closed

SERVICES

We are offering GIFT WRAPPING as a service this year. We will have 1 color option of a solid red wrapping. Wrapping will include wrap, gift tag (with a brief note). An individual item is only 50 cents, 35 cents each for multiple items when wrapped together. You can either select to have each item wrapped separately, all together in one box or a mix of both. Ensure you select the correct options when selecting each item.

Examples of our gift wrapping style along with our hugely popular Junk Oil
Gift Wrap Style

Gift orders: If you wish to have an item sent as a gift to another address, please ensure accuracy of the SHIP TO address. Please note in the ORDER COMMENTS box any extra details, like NO PACKING SLIP or delivery instructions for carrier.

If you wish to have multiple orders go to more than one location, please contact us so we can assist this process. We can offer the best possible means to accommodate your wishes and do so with a single payment transaction. If you do place the orders through our website, please do a separate order for each SHIP TO address. We will not be able split orders for shipping.

Gift Credit (Gift Cards) We have varying denominations or create your own value for Gift Credit. Gift Credit works by assigning a credit value to an account that the recipient can use anyway they wish. Don’t worry if the person you are gifting to does not have an account. All you need to do is provide a valid email address for the recipient and they will receive instructions on how to access their gift. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us.

RETAIL – POP-UPS

We do not have a POP-UP store this holiday season. If this changes anytime soon, we will certainly share the news. The situation that permitted us to have such a shop last year is not available to us.

There will be a one day appearance in JARVIS SQUARE neighborhood on DECEMBER 7th. Details will be on FACEBOOK for time and exact location (when available). We will only have a limited amount of space, so we will focus on our most popular items for this appearance.

We will work with our current resellers in Chicago to make sure they are well stocked on the items they offer. Currently we do not have a retailer that carries J&L Apothecary products. We are open to the idea of having retailers have us visit for a day or two to operate as a “trunk show”. Please contact us if you have any questions.


Some fine print: Due to product availability we may be forced to change promotions and sale items. It is important to us to not disappoint you by not being able to ship a product we presented as being available. We also reserve the right to change terms listed here based upon typos and errors – although we try to proofread this as much as possible. We do not offer rainchecks If there is an item you really wish to purchase and it shows as being unavailable, contact us and we may be able to provide an alternative or be able to honor the price and ship later if we are able to produce a unit within 48 hours.

Retiring Products and Scents for 2019

We have a policy to rotate out some of our fragrances from time to time. This allows us to introduce new scents to meet trends and evolving tastes. Every year we will work to introduce a few scents in a couple select products to check engagement and popularity. If well received they may get brought to our most popular products in a larger scale. Retired scents will still be available as a custom option in products that permit such an option to be maintained – essentially liquid soaps, beard care.

Production of the following fragrances has ended. Once existing stock is sold, we will not be producing complete units. There is a chance that they may return if there is demand or as a seasonal option.

TAROCCO – bitter citrus (J&L Pognotrophics)
CITRUS GROVE – herbal citrus blend (J&L Apothecary)
LONDON – rose peony (J&L Apothecary, Solid Cologne will continue)

LEXINGTON – removed from J&L Pogonotrophics’ Shaving Products only, Beard Care line will continue.

Retiring and Changing Products

Liquid Shampoo & Conditioner: New formulas are being introduced very soon. And remaining old stock is being discounted to make room. These formulas will match our most beneficial formulas of our BAR SHAMPOO line.

BAR SOAPS: The CRYSTAL & ORGANIC OILS Bar Soaps will come to an end. Some will be migrated to a new opaque soap base made from high-glycerin HEMP SEED OIL [This is the same base used for our ACTIVATED CHARCOAL SOAP]; other scents will be migrated the SHEA BUTTER formula. Once all existing stock is sold, expect to see the new bars.

240ml SHOWER WASH has been discontinued. We may introduce the scents that were targeted towards kids and those who appreciated the whimsical fragrances at shower time in our 360ml size.

All SHOWER WASH 360ml units will be replaced with 500ml “pouches” in 2020. Once we exhaust all our current packaging we will transition to a more sustainable packaging concept. The pouches will be such that they can be used to refill existing bottles you may have, use of an in shower soap dispenser or we will present a few options in bottles to use anywhere in your home. There is no plan to change the formula, although we may change the name to promote use of this great liquid soap as a hand soap and bubble bath.

J&L Apothecary branded shaving products. The formulas have been identical to our J&L Pogonotrophics line and we feel that those women who wish to use our shaving products will not be put-off by the alternate branding; especially when it will offer them more choice.

J&L Pogonotrophics branded Solid Cologne changing to J&L Apothecary branding. No formula changes, new scents coming!

J&L Pogonotrophics’ Shaving Soap in a Jar is being deleted. We have had an issue with jar quality that was creating too many defective units. Our plan is to reintroduce this product in 2020.

J&L APOTHECARY will receive a new look. It was overdue for a facelift, so we are making 2020 the year to do it. There is also work being done to change the name of the brand to avoid legal issues in some states. The name change is not definite as we will look into every point that such a change will impact. We will move forward with our new packaging with the existing brand name of J&L Apothecary. If, and when, we do change the name we will simply replace it on all existing packaging and marketing materials. We do not see any bulk change to formulas or product as a result of this change.

CLAY MASK MAKER: We are looking to revitalize our Clay Mask components with better communication on how it works, why it is a better option for a clay mask and what an amazing value it is. When speaking directly to a shopper it has been well received and rather popular. Online, the message does not seem to translate well enough.

A goal that is impacting much of our planned changes:

Becoming more sustainable is important to us. As we have focused so much on natural ingredients, we have not focused much on the sustainability of our products, packaging and all the components that go into making them. The idea is to change production methods to support less waste and a fresher product without sacrificing quality or options. Our plan for SHOWER WASH, as mentioned above, is the first step in this process.

We would love to use less plastic but for many of our items are used in areas of the home that are not ideal for glass containers. Where we can, we will transition to metal, glass or paper packaging. Where we do use plastic, we wish to use less of it or ensure it and is a more easily recycled plastic.

This is a goal that we feel we have been behind in instituting. Being a tiny business makes being sustainable very expensive. It has been more important for us to keep costs down until we are in a position to be smarter about what we use and how we use it. The time is right for us to make this transition and we trust you embrace the changes we plan to make.

More About Fragrance

We get it, we offer a lot of different scents. It may even be overwhelming to find the right fragrance for you, or for the person you are shopping for. In the personal care/cosmetic industry (sadly, this is an industry) fragrance is an important component of the products. These are things you are putting on your body, and they must not clash with whatever else you may be wearing as well as not be off-putting to your own senses. Even if the product is not scented, it’s natural fragrance still matters.

flower and spice

Why do we offer so many choices?

Simply because we wish to cover as much of the scent spectrum as possible. To offer sweet to musky; light to bold; fresh to earthy. It is easy for us to offer so many choices as each scent blend we have is added last and can be easily dosed for each item. Everything we make is in very small batches; with most only having a dozen units or less per batch. Our approach to our manufacturing can easily be scaled up as we grow which will allow us to continue to offer more options than most other brands.

Does this method add to the price of our products?

No. I am sure you will find many analyst tell you it does. That is the downside of thinking very narrowly at how things have always been done. As we say, “We not only think outside the box, we don’t put ourselves in a box to begin with.” Our production methods are such that it is more similar to the automotive industry in regards to color. Some cars still come in 6, 8, 12 different colors direct from the factory. Paint is applied in a wholly separate process and can even be randomized. Our scents are added as the last component before bottling/packaging. For many items, they can be added and with a few shakes be fully scented and ready for use. For example, we can produce a larger batch of Beard Oil of 36 units and have them bottled and ready – then we separate into groups of how many we wish to make of each fragrance option. The scent is added, we plug and cap the bottle and give it a good shake. Next step is simply applying a label.

Unscented does not equate being scent free.

Not everything we make is “scented”, but everything has a scent. When the terms “unscented” or “natural” is used it means we did not add anything to the product for the purpose of scent or fragrance. That any scent it has is sourced from the core ingredients. For example, our Bar Shampoo is available in 6 formulas. Of those 6, only 1 is scented. The remaining 5 formulas each carry a scent from the essential oils used for their properties in how they work with your skin and hair to achieve the desired results. Yes, they do have a scent but they are not scented.

Scents will come and go…

We plan to have anywhere from 6 to 10 in stock and ready to ship/sell scented items available at all times. We may rotate out scents options every year or every other year to allow us to bring new scents and retire less popular scents. In some instances, we are able to scent items to order for those less popular options so those that have a strong affinity for them will be able to buy them as long as we have means to make it. We hope to get to the point where we can offer scents on a seasonal basis, where one can stock up when it is available if they wish to have it year round. Or, enjoy them to stimulate the senses to match the season.

It is at our core to offer real choice in every manner possible. Choice in formulas, choice in scents and even choice in size. By having real choice you can find more that suits you and your needs best.

Original Beard Butter formula changes

The decision to change the formula of one of our signature products that we have had since our beginnings was not easy to make. There is always a fear that a change to a much loved and popular product will lead to a negative reaction from it’s admirers. Be assured that we did not take this change lightly and worked to make sure our product was only made better by the change. We felt we had to make these changes due to ethical concerns around two of the ingredients.

From the beginning we have used Palm Oil and Lanolin for their known skin and hair benefits. Both of these ingredients were not in a large abundance in our former formula, but they were powerful at what they did. Although we sourced our Palm Oil from a supplier that assured us that it is ethically sourced from growers that treat their workers fairly. With recent reports that such statements still cannot be trusted as so many workers are being exploited in all growing regions of this widely available fruit oil, we have opted to remove it over trying to obtain definitive assurance we are buying from ethical sources at all times.

Lanolin is an animal sourced component, made from processing sheep’s wool. In essence, lanolin is sheep sweat. When washing the wool, a goo remains that is highly refined to provide lanolin. Prized for it’s skin softening properties since the earliest of times, it is now seen as a byproduct of animal abuse by many advocates. This is an ingredient that is hard to find an equal to offer the same qualities, but we were up for the challenge.

We found 2 popular, commonly available plant based ingredients to be perfect replacements for the ingredients in question. First is Hemp Seed Oil. Hemp is very high in A, B & C vitamins and a great blend of Omega fatty acids that are perfect for hair and skin. We have used Hemp Seed Oil in many other products and have found no real issues with how it performs or affects our formulas. It’s addition, it brings a huge nutrient boost to our product and is the perfect replacement for Palm Oil. Our Hemp Seed Oil is also certified organic.

To replace lanolin we had to dig deep to find something that maintained the texture of the Beard Butter formula along with providing equal or better conditioning. We looked into so many natural fruit butters, but none of them performed at the level we desired when testing. Reading up on natural skin and hair care product components, we learned about Behentrimonium Methosulfate, also known as BTMS. This is a very popular hair conditioning agent that is derived from non-GMO rape seed oil (more commonly known as Canola Oil). It helps detangle hair as well as condition. You can find it in all the best hair conditioners and many salon shampoos. Combined with Cetearyl Alcohol ( a fatty alcohol derived from fruit oils), BTMS becomes a powerful hair conditioning agent as well as an ideal emulsifier – keeping everything mixed with it well blended. This not only became a very sensible choice, but adds benefits to improve the quality of the product.

When you first see this tweaked Original Beard Butter formula, you will notice it is no longer a creamy white-yellow, but in fact has a greenish tint. This is caused by the organic hemp seed oil. It will not color your hair green. The texture is a bit “creamier” and will melt a little quicker making it even easier to apply. It will also re-set quicker if the Beard Butter melted in hot environments.

The first Original Beard Butters you will see with this formula will be our Expanded Assortment scents as these are scented to order from the most recent batch of Beard Butter base. As we sell through our currently produced Original Beard Butter, the new formula will enter into our regular inventory.

If you receive one of these, please give us feedback to let is know what you think.

Thank you, John